Pattonville Computer Science Department Continues to Expand


Hayden Gust

Multiple students in Computer Science Essentials (the first year class) build a tip calculator. The unit was part of the curriculum.

Hayden Gust, Staff Writer

Pattonville has had a computer science department since the 2012-2013 school year. Mr.Simmons, a former math teacher, now computer science teacher, helped develop the program and, with his colleagues, has turned it into a Distinguished PLTW Program.

Since he took up the role as teacher of computer science 9 years ago, the program has grown in its offerings. Mr. Simmons uses a curriculum from Project Lead the Way (PLTW) as a base.”So we use the PLTW which follows the national standards. Sometimes we use Jeremiah Lead The Way (JLTW), but I just mix it up a bit.” Mr. Simmons said.

Some students have found that the program suits them well. Junior Hannadey Yezza said, “It was great, I genuinely loved it. It was Ms. Cross (who taught me). I remember the kids I had in my class were diverse, grade wise.”

The program is also promising in terms of setting up students for success after their school career. “We’ve had three kids who work at Microsoft, a person who works at Snapchat, we also someone who works at Riot Games,” Mr. Simmons said.

However, not all students like each aspect of the course. Senior Andrew Hartmann said, “Personally, I didn’t like the VEX unit with the robots. I like coding languages, and not block coding.”

The development of the program has occurred based upon student needs. Mr. Simmons said, “The sheer number of classes we offer has grown, so we started with one class. Seven kids did well on the AP test. The other four did not. We needed something for those who did not have any prior experience… Starting in the 2015 school year PLTW was putting out its first Computer Science Curriculum. The year after that we started out Capstone (fourth year class). The year after that they started their Computer Science Essentials (CSE) course. The year after that they offered Cyber Security.”

But the program isn’t perfect. “My background is in Software Development. We do a really good job for those who want to write software, but we need to improve on those who don’t want to write software. We do a really good job exposing kids to theories and software development, but not other branches like Database Administrators, and Network Administrators,” Mr. Simmons said.

And there are other endeavors such as getting new people in. Mr. Simmons said, “It’s been pretty challenging. Recruiting students has been challenging. Sometimes we go to middle schools, sometimes we don’t.”

Overall, the program gets positive reviews from students. Hartmann said, “It’s a good course. I had Ms. Cross. She’s a really good teacher. Then I had Mr. Simmons who was also really good. PLTW is a good program, too.”